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Solon accuses gov’t of ‘pressuring, threatening’ skipper of PH boat

/ 11:53 AM June 20, 2019
Solon claims skipper of PH boat was 'pressured, threatened by gov't'

THEY LOST EVERYTHING The fishing boat Gem-Vir 1, shown at home in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, in this file photo, was anchored at Recto Bank in the South China Sea when it was hit by a Chinese vessel on Sunday night. It sank but the crew survived, although, according to the boat owner, they lost their catch and everything else on the boat. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — An opposition lawmaker in the House of Representatives said it is no longer surprising that Junel Insigne, the captain of the Filipino boat rammed by a Chinese vessel in the West Philippine Sea, seemed to have changed his tune after meeting Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol on Wednesday.

READ: Ramming of PH vessel intentional or accident? Boat captain now unsure

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Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate believes that Insigne and his crew were already “pressured” and “threatened” by the administration through Piñol, who visited them in Occidental Mindoro and gave them new fishing boats and financial aid.

READ: ‘Just let us fish,’ says skipper of PH boat in Reed Bank incident

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“It’s not surprising na ‘yung mga statement ng ating mga biktima, mga mangingisda ay nagbago… There was really pressure, they were bombarded by so much misinformation… siguro may mga pagbabanta and overall bina-bribe sila…” Zarate said during Thursday’s weekly press briefing of the progressive Makabayan bloc in the chamber.

Zarate also warned that President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement downplaying the ramming incident in Recto Bank (Reed Bank) on June 9 as a “little maritime incident,” could embolden China’s aggression and bullying inside the Philippine’s exclusive economic zone.

READ: Duterte’s ‘insulting remarks’ on PH boat sinking draw flak

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas for her part echoed the demand for accountability of the 22 Filipino fishermen who had been abandoned by the Chinese crew.

“We are challenging the Duterte administration na talagang bigyan ng accountability o bigyan ng hustisya ‘yung ating mga mangingisda…” Brosas said.

READ: Fishermen to Duterte: Hold Chinese crew accountable

Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago said the ramming incident and the administration’s inaction on it should spark collective action from the public.

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“Malinaw sa kabataan na ang nakataya rito ‘yung ating kinabukasan, ‘yung yamang likas at kagaragatan ng ating bayan. Kaya nananawagan kami sa lahat na dapat magpatuloy ang ating mga pagkilos at pagkundena sa mga nangyaring ito,” Elago said.

“Ito ‘yung mga pagkakataon na kailangan sana ‘yung tunay na tapang at malasakit pero kabaligtaran ‘yung nakikita natin ngayon mula sa Duterte administration,” she added.

In a separate statement, Misamis Oriental 2nd District Rep. Juliette Uy called for sobriety among all parties directly involved in the incident, saying they should let the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) do its investigation.

“The Philippine Coast Guard has started its work on the case. I believe all the national authorities must respect the jurisdiction of the PCG on this, so they should all step back to let PCG do its work well,” Uy said.

The congresswoman also suggested that the Coast Guard give the public and the media a timeline of their investigation, as well as the parameters and procedures of their investigation. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)

RELATED STORIES:

Del Rosario: Then and now, China can’t be trusted

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DND: Chinese ship captain in Recto Bank incident should apologize, pay damages

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TAGS: House, Junel Insigne, Local news, Philippine news update, Pinol, Recto Bank
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